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The Market for Farms & Land 2023-24

January 2024

Richard Webber, partner with Greenslade Taylor Hunt and based in North Devon, reviews some of the success stories of 2023 and looks ahead to what 2024 may hold in store.

I am pleased to report that 2023 has been an incredibly busy and successful year for our Farm & Land Sales teams with the department going from strength to strength. The firm has acted in the sale of a wide variety of farms, smallholdings, equestrian properties and land right across the South West peninsula, with our recently opened Ivybridge office also now providing us with an expanding presence in the South Hams.

Highlight of the year was undoubtedly the 219 acre residential and sporting holding, Shircombe Farm near Dulverton, which was sold by our Taunton office at a figure close to the guide price of £4.6M. Examples of dairy holdings included the 200 acre Lower Westholme Farm at Pilton and the 128 acre Woodrow Farm at Yeovil, marketed with guide prices of £3.2M and £2.4M respectively. A small sample of residential livestock holdings included the 219 acre Rookery Farm (Guide £1.8M) at Corscombe near Dorchester; Caige Bush Farm (122 acres - Guide £1.8M) near Ilminster; Bycott Farm (125 acres - Guide £1.805M) at Dunkeswell; and Great Wadham (91 acres - Guide £1.55M) at Knowstone, all of the aforementioned selling in excess of their guide prices. A more unusual instruction was Horridge Farm at Ashreigney, a rare commodity in the form of a commercial deer farm, which was successfully sold in the region of the £1.8M guide price.

Across our area bare land values vary broadly from £4,000-£6,000/acre on the Somerset levels to the heady heights of £15,000+/acre in the Taunton Vale and M5 corridor. North Devon values are tending to range between £6,500 - £10,000/acre for decent quality land, although as always there are exceptions to the rule, and situation and local competition continue to be the most important factors in dictating end values.

Unlike the residential property market, the land and farms market has generally remained buoyant throughout 2023, although interest rates and borrowing costs seem to have tempered demand slightly towards the end of the year. The weather continues to prove a challenge and agricultural commodity prices have seen greater fluctuations, especially in the dairy industry. The phased removal of the BPS is resulting in our agricultural professional team assisting many more farmers and landowners to investigate the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and ELM’s schemes as a means of replacing lost income. Location continues to be one of the most important land value determining factors with many dedicated farming businesses still keen to expand, especially where opportunities arise to purchase farms or land adjoining existing holdings.

The ever present demand for lifestyle farms and the need to find space, privacy and solitude for one’s personal health and well-being remains a principle aim of many purchasers relocating to the South West. Demand from the environmental sector for tree planting, carbon off-setting, carbon sequestration and rewilding are likely to have an increasing influence on land values in the years to come. Of course, smaller land parcels generally sell to non-farming buyers, with a whole raft of weird and wonderful potential end use ideas.  

Sales of development land continue to provide roll-over funds, and this has undoubtedly played an influential role in the sale of larger farms. Land owning also remains an attractive option when it comes to capital taxes, at least for the time being. The purchaser base for land and farms continues to widen and it is likely that these factors should maintain values over the short to medium term.  

In my opinion, the main factors that will be key in ultimately determining land values over the next year or two will be location/access and level of supply. As always, the key in any property sale is quality presentation and prudent pricing in order to generate interest from the outset and which can then be capitalised upon to achieve the optimum result for the vendor.

Even now in the lead up to Christmas we are receiving a strong level of enquiries from prospective purchasers seeking good quality large commercial farms and parcels of land, and if this interest continues it may well prove advantageous for those farmers and landowners who may ultimately decide to come to the market in 2024.  

View our Winter edition of our Farms & Land List here.

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